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changing your past

gamecrazy19

if you were able to go back to being a kid(like most do over stories) how much would you change about your new future

robberhands

@gamecrazy19

Everything, otherwise it would be boring.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@robberhands

Everything, otherwise it would be boring.


Good answer! Why go back and relive a life you've already experienced. Correct your mistakes, try things you never tried before, and make it a new life, not a rerun!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@red61544

Good answer! Why go back and relive a life you've already experienced. Correct your mistakes, try things you never tried before, and make it a new life, not a rerun!

The same thing I'd do if I was reincarnated. Rather than try to duplicate my previous life, I'd enjoy experiencing an entirely new life.

The key to do-over stories, is that you're essentially limited to your old life, so you can only change certain things. But they're essentially wish-fulfillment stories (I wish I'd had a more successful life).

Replies:   red61544
StarFleet Carl

@gamecrazy19

if you were able to go back to being a kid(like most do over stories) how much would you change about your new future


I'm doing a little note taking about that for a story myself. Like many, I've at least given it a little thought on how and what I would do differently. The biggest hurdle is that with any do-over story, there's one thing that's out of your control (unless you have the whole aliens sending you back healthy thing) and that IS your health.

Great, re-do high school, bet that Affirmed would win the Triple Crown and clean up on horse races in 1978 so I'd have money for all those IPO's coming up ... and I'd still probably spend all of 1983 in the hospital again with cancer - because at that time, the treatment for what I had was still experimental.

So yeah, my do-over would simply be to not have cancer, so I could have gone on with a military career like I'd planned.

red61544

@Crumbly Writer

so you can only change certain things.

The first thing I'd change is that I would piss on fewer people. As you grow older, there are too many people to whom you need to apologize!

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@red61544

As you grow older, there are too many people to whom you need to apologize!


Funny. The older I grow, the less I care about whether I piss someone off. (As for pissing on them - hey, if golden showers are your thing ... )

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@StarFleet Carl

As for pissing on them - hey, if golden showers are your thing ... )


Tis better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.

-Unknown. :)

Ernest Bywater

Although I find a lot of the Do Over stories interesting to read, there's one significant issue I have a major problem with that's endemic to the genre.

Life is a series of events which often arise out of, or depend on, earlier events. For example, a car crash of a 17 y/o can't happen unless they get their license and buy the car prior to that - or have stolen the car prior to that. yet many of the Do Over stories are a series of changes to the person's life based on what they remembered happened earlier. Most of the time the changes introduced have little or no effect on the later life events in most of the stories. While if it happened in real life there would be significant alterations to the later events.

There are a few that take this into account, but not many.

The best stories are where the main character makes a change in their home life, and all the later issues from that vanish, but the problems at school and work continue until they make a significant change in them to eliminate the later problems from the previous time through.

docholladay

My problem with it is: would I be there for those people I helped along the way. Because of changing just one major sequence in my past. What new mistakes would I make as I tried for a new personal life path.

REP

The moment I change something my new life will deviate from my old life and I may never experience those things I want to change. There is also no guarantee my new life will be better than my old.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
KinkyWinks

I left home at 14 with less than $20, that was in January of 1960. If I could make changes to my early life it would definitely be money.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Rambulator

Most of my life I would keep the same except I would manage my money better, not be rich but be comfortable all of my life. I have seen too many rich people that have the life like the affluenza kid from Texas.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Rambulator

I have seen too many rich people that have the life like the affluenza kid from Texas.


That presumes that you didn't learn in your first life the problems that come with too much money. It's possible to be rich and not be stupid with your money if you're already aware of what can happen.

StarFleet Carl

So does anyone think that maybe Bill Gates is actually having a do-over of his previous life, and that's why he's where he is now?

LonelyDad

I for one don't believe in the 'Butterfly Effect' theory. The flow of time has an inertia due to societal effects that aren't easily deflected. Until it gets up into the Bill Gates range, it really doesn't matter whether Joe Blow or John Doe becomes a millionaire. Or that B got the Nobel for something A invented the first time. To me, time is fluid enough that without being impacted by a major shift, it is going to flow along just like it did the first time. That doesn't mean that minor differences might cause a change further into the future. As an example, in 'A Fresh Start' as President Carl redirected several trillion dollars away from being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and saved several thousand lives. That money being used elsewhere, and those lives making contributions that otherwise wouldn't have been made, or have been made by someone else, has to affect the flow of Time, but it will be further down the stream before they become apparent.

As another example take the constant speculation on how history would have been different if Hitler had not been born or survived WWI. I believe that if that had happened, someone else would have moved into the same position in history that he filled. Whether that would have made things better or worse can be debated, but whoever held that position of power would still have been defeated sooner or later.

So while any changes made by the story's protagonist may be extremely important to their life, they will usually have little or now apparent effect on Time as a whole.

LonelyDad

Of course, then we get into the theory that every action causes the Universe to split into one or more alternate realities, but I'm not going to go there at all.

shinerdrinker

@StarFleet Carl

I tend to think it is actually Elon Musk who is reliving his life. He came outta nowhere and now is in the middle of so much stuff. He had to have come in with future knowledge!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@LonelyDad

As another example take the constant speculation on how history would have been different if Hitler had not been born or survived WWI.


The conditions in Germany at the time Hitler rose to power were such that any forceful leader could have made the same rise he did. However, if you back up to the end of WW1 and have the original treaty President Wilson proposed being approved by the US Congress instead of being blocked by a handful of people opposing it simply because it's what Wilson wanted and they hated him, then you don't have the punitive conditions imposed at the end of WW1 and the economic collapse of Germany wouldn't have happened, and they wouldn't have welcomed someone like Hitler. Also, the original League of Nations would have been given the teeth and powers Wilson wanted it to have, instead of being reduced to a sewing circle discussion club by the US Congress. That's one important event that could make a hell of a lot of downstream changes - delay a handful of Congressmen from attending that day, and it would've been different. There are a few other such events in history, but not as many as most people think exist.

awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

So does anyone think that maybe Bill Gates is actually having a do-over of his previous life, and that's why he's where he is now?


He certainly learnt the right lesson: being clever doesn't result in success, being in a position to exploit clever people is what counts.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The moment I change something my new life will deviate from my old life and I may never experience those things I want to change. There is also no guarantee my new life will be better than my old.

As I science nerd, I keep harping back to the "Butterfly effect", where a infintesimal change (say, stepping on a butterfly in China, has have phenomenal effects across the globe, say in the Eastern U.S.). This has been proven in complex mathematical models, where they change a single tiny parameter (assumed change only 0.0000...002% (invented figure, since I'm too lazy to research the actual figure) chance of affecting anything, and soon the entire model has changed completely.

Thus, you might think you know how to correct all of the mistakes in your life, and for a while, it'd work just as you planned, but soon, those 'sure bets' concerning sporting events, political contest and devastating storms no longer happen they way you'd remember from your previous life.

If if that wasn't the case, time is linear. If you go back and change history, you'd no longer remember the way it was originally, as your future self would only remember how it changed after he'd changed it.

Thus, from a rational point of view, do-over stories are just so much fantasy with no basis in any kind of reality.

This continually struck me in a series of stories where someone went back and invested in silver in the 80s. I was there, working in the financial community at the time. If ANYONE had invested much in silver, the silver market would NEVER have been cornered, meaning that, if you invest, you effectively cancel the very benefit you're hoping for.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@KinkyWinks

I left home at 14 with less than $20, that was in January of 1960. If I could make changes to my early life it would definitely be money.

I'd prefer my older self went back (when the time machines are cheap and easily affordable), and give my younger self a BUNCH of cash to invest, so that my present self would only know his history as having been wealthy all his life—all without ever having to lift a finger! 'D

Dominions Son

@shinerdrinker

I tend to think it is actually Elon Musk who is reliving his life. He came outta nowhere and now is in the middle of so much stuff. He had to have come in with future knowledge!


Nah, Musk is an alien.

Crumbly Writer

@LonelyDad

I for one don't believe in the 'Butterfly Effect' theory. The flow of time has an inertia due to societal effects that aren't easily deflected. Until it gets up into the Bill Gates range, it really doesn't matter whether Joe Blow or John Doe becomes a millionaire.

Again, we're not talking about a dead butterfly causing a financial collapse the next month. Instead, we're talking about exponential changes over time. So, in my previous example, investing in silver would mean you'd lose ALL your money, immediately, but then twenty years later, you'd have the kids who reaped the benefits of your misbegotten investment making significant changes to the world, while the Coke Brokers would have had zero effect!

It's not a direct relationship, and a matter of small affairs run amok over time. They key is, NO ONE would have any idea of what those changes would entail, as it runs counter to all the programming, details and trends the mathematical 'Butterfly Effect' models were built on.

Replies:   docholladay
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

So does anyone think that maybe Bill Gates is actually having a do-over of his previous life, and that's why he's where he is now?

He certainly learnt the right lesson: being clever doesn't result in success, being in a position to exploit clever people is what counts.

If he came back from the future, you'd think he'd have had a clue that he was gonna be clobbered by Steve Jobs. Instead, the biggest influence on Bill Gates AND Steve Jobs, was imply massive amounts of money to invest (often other people's to start off with, and then momentum keeps the money rolling in until it eventually grinds to a halt, decades later after destroying millions of lives.

In short, I'm glad I live in the present, as I hated shitting in an outhouse, no refrigeration or communications, or dying of the plague.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

It's not a direct relationship, and a matter of small affairs run amok over time. They key is, NO ONE would have any idea of what those changes would entail, as it runs counter to all the programming, details and trends the mathematical 'Butterfly Effect' models were built on.


I think the one I recall from a movie(can't remember which one) was a time travel movie. A character on a tour during one of the dinosaur ages. Stepped on a butterfly by accident. The effects were unnoticable locally time wise. But the changes were extremely noticable during the time frame the tourist was from.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

if you invest, you effectively cancel the very benefit you're hoping for.

There is a name for that effect. It is called the (Man's Name) Effect. Essentially it says that in the process of measuring something, you change the parameter you are measuring and your measurement is not valid.

It's like putting a thermometer into a small amount of liquid to measure its temperature. The temperature of the thermometer will raise or lower the temperature of the liquid, so the measured value is different from the value before you inserted the thermometer.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@REP

It is called the (Man's Name) Effect. Essentially it says that in the process of measuring something, you change the parameter you are measuring and your measurement is not valid.

The Observer effect in physics.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)

EDIT-
There is also the Hawthorne effect "individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect

StarFleet Carl

@docholladay

I think the one I recall from a movie(can't remember which one) was a time travel movie. A character on a tour during one of the dinosaur ages. Stepped on a butterfly by accident. The effects were unnoticable locally time wise. But the changes were extremely noticable during the time frame the tourist was from.


Ray Bradbury short story - 'A Sound of Thunder'

He wrote it in the early '50's, I remember reading it in a collection in the early '70's.

StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

In short, I'm glad I live in the present, as I hated shitting in an outhouse, no refrigeration or communications, or dying of the plague.


That was the appeal of the SCA - medieval recreation without the bad things.

Replies:   Harold Wilson
helmut_meukel
Updated:

@docholladay

IMHO the butterfly effect is the exception not the rule. It's an interesting and complex mathmatical concept but it dosn't truely depict reality.

Not any change will influence the outcome over time, but you can't be certain about the effect the change will have or have not.

Some real world examples:

* increasing the hunting pressure locally will not reduce the game in this hunting ground accordingly, because game will wander into the now less populated grounds. Even the overall population density won't decrease considerably in the long run. To ensure a noticable effect over a long time you have to try for extinction.

* the example of the pond and the stone shows you will create ripples but usually they will be gone in less than an hour. However if the pond is small enough and the stone big enough, you will get permanent changes.

* If only a very small percentage of mosquitos bear a deadly disease, killing one mosquito might save the life of a person with all its consequences.

All you do in a do-over will have an influence, but the probability for a permanent overall change is quite low.

HM.

Edit: typo corrected

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@helmut_meukel

I think the main point of the so-called butterfly example is that anything can be a critical factor in the time line. For scientists its an educated guess, but any thing no matter how small and insignificant could turn out to be a critical event. Just most likely in that kind of an event history would resist being changed. Probably causing a timeline split creating a new dimension with a different timeline. But even that is a guess on my part. I think history would resist in any way possible any event which could potentially change the current timeline.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
helmut_meukel

@docholladay

any thing no matter how small and insignificant could turn out to be a critical event

A classical is Asimov's story "Spell my Name With an S" from his story collection "Nine Tomorrows" (1959)

HM.

Harold Wilson

@StarFleet Carl

That was the appeal of the SCA - medieval recreation without the bad things.


"Swords and Shields AND toilet paper!"

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Harold Wilson

"Swords and Shields AND toilet paper!"


EXACTLY!

Although there were a few times there was toilet paper and no toilets. That first RenFair I went to where I was introduced to women just ... peeing in the bushes.

Joe Long

Mine isn't technically a 'do-over' story, but the protagonist and premise is 98% based on me at that age, but with an alternate future. It's how things could have possibly gone, but that doesn't mean everything goes well.

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